Contemporary researches in education had discovered that involving the learner in his/her own learning is making him/her more interested and motivated to meet the aims and objectives of the education.
Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) was the father of child centered education or progressivism.He was born in Geneva in Switzerland.He was educated as an orthodox Calvinist ,joined catholism and later rejoined Calvinism.Eventually he settled for the religion of nature.
His father was poor ,who combined the professions of cobbler and dancing master.His mother died when he was an infant and he brought up under the guidian of her Aunt.
At the age of 12 Rousseau left schoo and was apprenticed to various professions and he hated them all.He was not stick to one partner as he moved from one love affair to another and eventually ,settled for an illeterate wife.His children was kept at an orphanage home as he didn't able to keep them for himself.
His philosophy put forward a philosophy called naturalism because ,he was a writer ,a philosopher and a social theorist.
Rousseau's naturalism was rooted in environment romanticism ,which is love of nature.The most popular doctrine under his name called noble savage.His philosophy was rooted in utilitarianism (Usefuness of education)Naturalism is a philosophical outlook which calls for the need to return to nature inorder to solve social problems.Rousseau was against civilisation and bookish knowledge which he believed that they corrupt the innocent child.He is against the belief of traditions of many people were born with original sin ,but rather their inherent good which was spoiled by civilisation.Barker(1988)says a child is born good but society spoils him/her.
Rousseau in the novel Emile Rousseau presents a view that the innate goodness will flower when they are kept or raised out of contact in a corrupt society and a free to learn not from books ,but from direct contact with nature (naturalism). Rousseau praised the noble savage man ,that is incivilised premitive person,for his natural state genuineness and honesty.Gordon and Brown (1989)Roussel said God makes all things good ,but man maddles with him so that they become evil.
In educational ideas Rousseau argued that the beginning and ending of education is the child .The child is the most valuable ,so child who should be seen learning and the teacher being the facilitator.
The child's interests and values(the child's world) are completely different from those of adults hence the child is not a miniature adult.(small adult) young immature adult.
He emphasised that children percieve the world differently from the way adult evaluate and solve problems.By this implication the children's interests and values must come first in the children's education.
Rousseau in Bramreld(1950)says ,nature would develop them before they are men.However ,if we try to invert this order we shall produce forced fruit on immature and flavourless fruit which will be rotten before it ripes.By forcing children to become adult by making them do what we want through teaching them to lie ,cheat and decievers so as to get out of trouble.
We succeed in developing pedants(people who stick to rules )do not fit in society because they are not independent thinkers or problem solvers.
Venkates (1998:167)supports this by saying,"we cannot impart information mechanically .We can develop the natural tendencies of children and exite their curiosity."Children should be actively engaged in their education when they are ready to learn.Their learning needs are never identical.
According to Rousseau there are three bad things about the education system of his time:
Corporal punishment was in rampant use in schools.Rousseau argued that young children are very innocent and if the child reacts badly it will be a result of ill treatment.
There was little education to talk about because many people went out uneducated.
The curriculum was prescriptive because classes were at the centre of curriculum at the expense of sciences.
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